By Anita Doberman: Guest Columnist
Ordinary days in the life of military spouses are anything but ordinary. We are used to last-minute cancellations, constant change of plans and unexpected emergencies. A few weeks ago, I dealt with such an emergency.
My husband is a typical “military guy.” He claims to never get sick, meaning he ignores his symptoms until the last possible minute for fear of DNIF (duties not including flying).
When he called me on a Tuesday afternoon to casually tell me that he was driving himself to the emergency room for stomach pains, I was immediately alarmed.
I insisted that he wait for me, but he told me he was already close to the hospital.
I quickly arranged for last-minute child care (a very helpful military spouse ready to watch my children) and got in my car.
At the base gate cars were not moving in either direction because of an emergency test. How could this be happening now? I tried to calm myself and searched for some soothing music on the radio — naturally all commercials or hard rock — visualized myself as reasonable and, looked for candy, even in my children’s car seats. Finally, after 20 excruciating minutes and no candy, we were moving.
When I reached the emergency room, I encountered another problem. A nurse told me, “Your husband is not in our system, Ma’am. He must have gone to a different hospital.” I spelled his name several times, gave the last four digits of his Social Security number, which I know better than my own, but they still could not locate him.
I started to suspect that a “Candid Camera” crew was going to appear to tell me it was all a joke when a nurse remembered that he had been moved to another floor.
I thought she said the multipurpose floor. I tried to get there quickly but got lost several times. How would the “Candid Camera” crew find me now? I asked a doctor where the multipurpose floor was located and he said there was no such thing. Clearly, this was all a joke. But just in case my husband was really having surgery, I asked someone else and this time he told me that I was looking for the med/surg floor.
I arrived in my husband’s room and the doctor was there. Hubby was not doing well.
He was green, slightly blue. It was appendicitis. They would take him into surgery as soon as the OR became available. My husband’s squadron commander arrived to keep me company. To make things better, I found a vending machine and got lots of candy.
After a few hours, my husband came back from surgery and seemed to be doing fine. Driving back home I thought about this exceptional day and realized that it was an “ordinary day” for a military spouse.
My patience was tested. I had to rely on my extended military friends and fellow spouses to take care of the kids and offer moral support, and on the military health care system. Somehow I successfully managed to keep it together and learned how to handle another unexpected emergency in the ordinary day of a military spouse.